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Great Leadership (Development)

Our research insights and experience can help to make sure you have outstanding leaders at all levels — both now and for the future.

In today’s VUCA* world senior leaders must be more effective than ever, to meet the demands of their customers and staff. They require agility to anticipate and manage the ever-changing needs arising from external influences, such as political, social, environmental and major technological advances.

Why is leadership development one of the top priorities for organisations?


Organisations prioritise developing great leaders because great leadership drives high employee engagement, motivation and performance.  Even a 20% improvement in how people are managed can result in a 25% increase in output.  Ineffective management on the other hand costs £billions in lost working hours. 

Developing leaders in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA*) world isn’t easy. It requires leaders to be agile, and able to adapt to change. It’s not surprising that 71% of companies do not feel their leaders are future focused enough to lead their organisation in the future.

In a time when people are more loyal to their team than their organisation, creating a cadre of excellent leaders, who are invested in and motivated to stay with you, is vital. Only 19% of organisations think they are effective at developing and motivating their leaders.

Be one of them.

Whilst senior leaders are key when it comes to leading the way and promoting a positive work environment, all staff have an important role to play. Great individual contributors can help inspire and motivate others to do the same, just as the poor ones can hold colleagues back, sap people’s energy and squander too much of their manager’s time in performance management.

Our diagram describes the different levels of leadership (all individuals, department leaders and team leaders, general or cross-functional leaders and senior leaders)in an organisation and highlights why it’s important to invest in the right people and ensure they develop good leadership habits at an early stage. Our talentsmoothie Tools and Interventions (click the purple tabs for details) are designed to help you do it.

The talentsmoothie levels of leadership, a talentsmoothie diagram
The talentsmoothie levels of leadership

Leadership framework

We help you define and deliver what ‘great leadership’ looks like. Why have a leadership framework? Most organisations manage performance by measuring ‘what’ people need to deliver, but fewer focus on ‘how’ to deliver it, and the contribution that ‘how’ can make to creating a great work environment. A well-rounded leadership framework will help your organisation and your people:
1. be clear about how to be a positive contributor; 2. know what it takes to get promoted at various levels; and 3. have a benchmark and a means of assessing progress.

Leadership development

We help you with our practical approach to designing leadership development tailored to your needs. We start with 360° Feedback (where leaders get feedback from the people who work around them). Our process involves open and constructive conversations, and evidence-based feedback, including about what could be ‘even better’. Then our Leadership Development Centres (LDCs) combine our diagnostics expertise with learning and individual coaching, so that your leaders have better self-awareness, appreciate their strengths, and have a clear development path and plan.

Executive coaching

We help your Execs manage complexity and achieve through others. Our executive coaching is tailored to each Exec’s unique needs and schedule, and is known for its excellent return on investment. Our skilled and highly-qualified coaches will cover your leadership development priorities, but also provide an experienced sounding board or independent view when the going is tough (and it can be tough at the top, as sharing concerns with internal organisation colleagues is not always an option). Choose executive coaching, and your Execs will perform to their greatest potential

Team coaching

We help your teams be more effective. A team might be grappling with a difficult challenge, or be dysfunctional due to a lack of shared goals or personality differences. Or a new team might benefit from early support to get a project off the ground fast or to deliver an ‘impossible’ result. We deal with the critical need, but also help the team find and agree ways of sustaining the improvement or the approach going forward. Our team coaching helps teams work and perform better, and frees up leaders by devolving responsibility for task, process and relationships.

Future-focused leaders

We help your leaders keep ‘ahead of the curve’. Leaders today must be agile and keep learning. What’s your thinking on social inclusion, generational and cultural diversity, the ageing workforce, unconscious bias, corporate social responsibility, and the impact of technological change on how and when we work? Our short workshops and ‘lunch and learn’ sessions raise awareness and give leaders insight into the ‘future focus’ agenda and how they can plan to leverage opportunities and minimise threats.

Great Leadership FAQ

What makes a successful or great leader?

When we ask our clients about ‘what good leadership looks like’ for them and what helps motivation and engagement in their organisation, an overwhelming number of responses tend to relate to their leaders’ positive personal characteristics and behaviours, rather than to their technical skills and knowledge.

So, what are the attributes and behavioural qualities needed to be a successful leader? Authentic? Agile? Decisive? Strategist? Visionary?

There is no one single definition or set of characteristics. Different organisations and contexts have different demands, but we can identify generally where leaders’ strengths support an organisation’s performance and where significant gaps demand change or define development needs. Talentsmoothie’s work with clients in leadership assessment and development draws on the Schroder research and framework. Developed over twenty years, in both business and academic settings, this highly validated research concluded which behaviours were key differentiators in high-performing leaders. It continues to be used by many organisations to review and develop leadership capability.

See the illustration below for some examples of the expectations placed on today’s leaders – things we typically hear that senior leaders need for their business and that staff appreciate in their managers. (The Thinking, Developing, Inspiring, Achievement category quadrants are based on the Schroder research.)

The talentsmoothie leadership model, based on Schroder, a talentsmoothie diagram
The talentsmoothie leadership model, based on Schroder

The bad news is that the demands and qualities of a leader are many and varied. BUT the good news is that…

  • Great leaders don’t have strengths in all areas
  • The best leaders are self-aware, know their core strengths and how to fill the gaps (often by talent-spotting and developing their missing strengths in others)
  • Specific behaviours associated with leadership success can all be described in clear and simple terms (and for different levels of leader)
  • Whilst it’s easier to play to your core and natural strengths, leadership behaviours can be learned and developed
  • Negative behaviours, which always limit and affect others’ performance and motivation, can all be ‘developed out’
Do you have any free Great Leadership resources?

You can download our free Leadership Effectiveness Factsheet and our Coaching Action Sheet on our Insights page.

Can you give Great Leadership project examples?

Our Leadership Effectiveness work with Enterprise Rent-A-Car is an excellent example of how ‘great leadership’ behaviours, more consistently demonstrated across the business, can create the desired culture change necessary to enable even better business performance. Read the full Leadership Effectiveness at Enterprise Rent-A-Car Case Study or find all our client case studies below.

“talentsmoothie deliver… real culture change

From this latest Leadership Effectiveness project we’ve seen improvements in engagement scores, and more successful, diverse and fair promotions, but, we are also excited to be experiencing real culture change, which was what we wanted. Our senior managers are on fully on board. They have ‘bought into’ and understand the value of the coaching culture we’ve introduced, so we know the improvements are sustainable in the longer term
Donna Miller — European HR Director, Enterprise Holdings
Read the full Enterprise Case Study or find all the talentsmoothie client case studies below.

Whatever stage you’re at with your Leadership Development, we’d love to help.

+44 (0)20 7127 4741